Page 50 - From 'The Saga of the Reluctant Piper'
ISSUE : Issue 25
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1980/6/1
If ever there was a dour, uncompromising, determined-in-his-ways personification of inflexibility among the Scots of Cape Bret? on, indeed, Big Rod the Piper was it. He lived high atop a wood-cleared knoll a few hundred yards distance from MacDale Brook, which feeds into Horton Lake, a few short miles from the Big Brook Road, which leads to Port Hastings, within sight of the Causeway they now call Canso. He was a big man, tall and wiry; the soft blue of his eyes belied the perverse nature of his manner. Big Rod lived a quiet, frugal life amidst the lakes and streams of his dis? trict, and his closest companion and help? mate, of course, was his wife of 27 years' quiet and uneventful marriage, Sarah. He came out from his wooden haven seldom, and when he did, it was to visit for no longer than three days his brother Angus, em? ployed now these 31 years in one of the big pits on the fringe of the Reserve Dis? trict in Cape Breton. Big Rod's biggest pasttime and most enjoy? able occupation came each evening after the supper meal when, if the weather per? mitted, he strolled his strident step back and forth in front of his small shieling and filled the air as far as sound would carry with his piping. Indeed, 7 months and 3 days ago, when Dougald MacNeil and the other representatives of the Canso Crossing Committee had called on Big Rod, they cooled their heels in the front room till he had finished his piping, before greetings were exchanged. For that was the night he was asked to number his pipes and himself among the select 100. Flattered by the compliment, he accepted then, and it was felt by all' that lucky was the commit? tee to have Big Rod agree to anything. (Skirl of pipes and drums.) But during those intervening 7 months, the thought persisted in the mind of Big Rod, "Was this Canso Causeway really something that a true Scot should play his pipes to rejoice over?" He kept his peace until, of all times, the night preceding the offic? ial opening--for that night. Big Rod spoke his mind. (Sudden ominous sound of music.) Early Friday morning he drove the 41 miles to the home of Dougald MacNeil and stated his declaration that he would not play "The Road to the Isles" or any other music to open the great Causeway..,,MacNeil called an emergency meeting of the Pipers' Committee that night. Frenzied anxiety marked the occasion. Speaker after speaker entreated the red-headed piper to recon? sider his decision. It was all to no avail. The minister of the church from his dis? trict was sent for, as was the priest,... It availed nothing. It was at this point that political influ- A neighbourhood store in a beautiful village Neife Harbour CO"OP' /" '-' CampGill -'t Lighthouse 'H Cape Breton Shopping Plaza '' Sydney River, Nova Scotia The Shop with the Answer to all Your Lighting Needs Home of Gaelic College Summer School 2,3 & 5 IVeek Courses in Scottish Highland Dancing Bagpipe Music The Annual Gaelic Mod "'""'= '""'""'' Held During the First Full Week in August The Gaelic College, st. Ann's, n. s. '' P.O.Box 9, Baddeck, N.S. (50)
Cape Breton's Magazine